After more than 20 years as a clothing designer, Sigrid Olsen showcases another artistic talent at her harborside home.

Jacquelyne Froeber

The name Sigrid Olsen is synonymous with style. Women around theglobe covet her expertly knitted sweaters and brightly printedtops. Recently, parent company Liz Claiborne announced it's closingher eponymous line of chic apparel and accessories, allowing Sigridmore time to focus on other creative endeavors. "I was an artistbefore a fashion designer," she says. At home in Gloucester,Massachusetts, she has rediscovered her passion for painting.

More than 20 years ago, Sigrid began making stamps from rawpotatoes and dipping them in silk-screen textile ink to printfabric. Today, in her home and gallery, she displays cheerful worksfeaturing organic shapes. Her gallery also houses a collection ofbooks, cards, and decorated pottery.

"Are you the Sigrid Olsen?" ask shoppers who've entered througha sliding glass door. After confirmation, the women praise herclothing line. "How do you find time for this?" they say, surveyingher collection.

Good question. Sigrid explains that her renewed interest inpainting followed treatment for breast cancer three years ago.Taking a break from the long hours and hard work that went intodesigning clothing and home decor, she says, "I realized it hadbeen a long time since I could create something without having itapproved by hundreds of people."

Her recent work includes vivid colors and varied themes, manyinspired by the ocean. "Even as a kid, I was always painting thewater and sky," she says. She creates her paintings―splashedwith rays of sun, jumping fish, swaying palms, and tropicalflowers―in her basement. Though the room is small, it haseverything she needs: paint, stamps, brushes, and quiet.

Sigrid and husband Curtis Sanders spend half the year at thecoastal retreat in Gloucester. "But we may not leave this time,"Curtis says, only half joking. Located in the oldest working artcolony in the country, their residence overlooks the Rocky Neckharbor. Today, artists and art lovers enjoy waterfront shops,studios, and galleries here.

"It's fun to live in a place where everyone would rather bepainting," Sigrid says. "When you really have it in your blood, youwould always rather be painting."

Sigrid Olsen Art; 978/281-1766 or sigridolsenart.com

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